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Four Lowell Odyssey of the Mind teams advance to state finals

The Region 1 Odyssey of the Mind Tournament was held recently at Forest Hills Eastern High School as over 50  teams gathered to show off their creativity. Lowell Area Schools sent seven teams to the competition. The top teams in each problem and division qualified for the state finals competition to be held on March 14 at Thornapple Kellogg Schools. 

In the “Longshot Solution” problem, teams were asked to present a performance about Longshot characters who save the Earth from a disastrous event. Three team-created vehicles traveled and delivered Arm & Hammer baking soda and vinegar to an area where they created a reaction. The vehicles traveled simultaneously from different start areas and overcame team-created obstacles. Certainly a difficult problem, but two Lowell teams accepted the challenge. The young elementary team of Ciarra Krueger, Carson Geiger, Evangeline Trujillo, Suzanna Oesch, Lauren Harrington and Savanna Kresge placed seventh out of eight teams in their division. The Lowell Middle School team of Nicholas Lothian, Teige Bredin, Isabelle Sternisha, Eliana Thompson, Eli Wilterink and Lily Franks brought home a first place finish with the highest long term and spontaneous score in their division advancing them to the state finals competition.  

Computers, satellites, and servers work continuously to allow people from all over the world to communicate. These networks give us access to information including communications, messages, and videos. In this "Networking" problem, an image, a text message, and an email were transmitted between locations by a team-created network device. The team of Olivia Lothian, Ally Hollern, Ella Anne Pike, Adelle Krueger, Brooklyn Jackson, Henry Oesch and Claire Greenwood took some risks in solving this problem that paid off as they placed second in their division advancing them to the state finals competition.  

In the Classics....Effective Detective problem, teams introduced their audience to one of the greatest detectives as they uncovered the truths behind some of history's real-world mysteries. The team was also challenged to use the smallest space possible to store its solution. Lowell had two teams solve this problem. The elementary team of Garrison Winters, Olivia Landes, Logan Arnswald, Bryleigh Thompson, Zack Shea, Neriah Peters and Finn Bredin gave a solid performance with a fifth place finish out of nine teams.  The Lowell Middle School team of Evan Bray, Natalie Bray, Madison DeSmyter, Isabella Cramer, Dalton Charon, Gabriele Stodola and Ayla Charon placed second out of nine teams advancing them to the state finals competition. The middle school team also received the very coveted Ranatra Fusca award for exceptional creativity in the spontaneous portion of the competition. Receiving this award is quite an accomplishment.

The Lowell High School team competed in the equally challenging "Balsa Limbo" structure problem where they had to build a structure made only of balsa wood and glue to hold as much weight as possible. This year the structures had to be created by adjusting its interconnected parts. Before weight placement, the structure had to be passed under a limbo bar with a higher score awarded for how low the bar was when the structure passed under it.  The team of Phoebe Looman, John Lothian, Brecken Pawloski, Nick Momany, Josh Momany, Hayden Burt and Brendan Duursma brought home a first place medal advancing them to the state finals competition.  

In every known language there are examples of short statements that are not supposed to be taken literally. These statements provide information in a brief and recognizable way but have nothing to do with their literal interpretation. Can you imagine what it was like when commonly known statements were first used metaphorically? How about trying something new and being the "guinea pig?"  In the "Gibberish or Not" problem, teams were asked to create and perform a story about how statements that make no literal sense can be given meaning. The elementary team of Lillian Russell, Lindsey Cramer, Greylon Vandenbosch, Aeric Mullins and J'Lynn Bruinekool worked hard to come up with a great solution.  

Odyssey of the Mind is an international program that fosters creative thinking and problem-solving skills among kindergarten through college level students around the world. Teams work to solve any one of a number of long-term problems, from building mechanical devices and balsa wood structures to creating a unique interpretation of a literary classic. New teams will be forming in the fall for interested students. 

Photo: The Lowell Middle School "Classics....Effective Detective" team received the top award in the Odyssey of the Mind competition - the Ranatra Fusca award for exceptional creativity. The team also brought home second place medals. Pictured, back row, left to right: Evan Bray, coach Jamie Bray-Merritt, Madison DeSmyter, Isabella Cramer and coach Erin DeSmyter; front row, left to right: Gabriele Stodola, Natalie Bray, Ayla Charon and Dalton Charon.

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